19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Last time in John 20 in our series “Living in the reality of the Resurrection” we saw how the Risen Savior took a woman named Mary Magdalen from worry and weeping to worship and witnessing. Today as we continue in John 20 we will see one of the greatest results of the resurrection, that as followers of Jesus Christ we no longer have to live in fear. We’ve all experienced fear at one time or another. Fear is one of the oldest and strongest emotions known to mankind. Fear was the first emotion to emerge after Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden of Eden, Genesis 3:9-10 “they hid from the Lord God among the trees. 9 Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” When we forsake God and seek sin fear always follows. How did Adam and Eve handle their fear, they hid, and thousands of years later how do we find the disciples dealing with fear? Hiding, hold up instead of handing out hope. It’s here that we discover that there are two ways of dealing with fear, man’s way and the Messiah’s way. Unfortunately, many of us are turning and trusting in man-made ways instead of the Master. As a result, we are relying on coping mechanisms instead of Christ conquering one. Like the disciples we are relying on locks instead of the Lord. But what do locks do in our lives, they limit us. Your coping mechanism becomes your cage; instead of providing protection it puts you in prison. You have a choice, you can choose Christ or a coping mechanism, but let me ask you what do you really want, a crutch or a cure? So how does Jesus deal with disciples of fear? He provides us with His presence. The first truth we need to turn to if we want to be free from our fears is to:
- Expect His Presence
Just like the disciples many of us are living locked up lives because our focus is on the problems and not His presence. Now I am not minimizing their problems, they had real problems not just perceived ones. The religious rulers had crucified Christ and their fear was that they would come and kill them next. I want you to notice a contrast here between religion and relationship. Religion brings fear, relationship brings freedom. Religion brings legalism, relationship brings life. Many of us are living in the limits because we are relying on religion instead of the Redeemer. Religion results in rule-based living instead of relationship-based living. The reason we read the bible should be based on love not the law. Many of us are living in the mandates and the have to instead of we get to. Religion always result in locked up lives, it kills relationship instead of kindling it. Parents what are you communicating to your kids, rule-based living or relationship-based living? Because what we communicate we will cultivate. If we are not careful we will cultivating a life of fear for our kids instead of a life of faith. We need to be careful that we don’t cripple our kids and cause them to live locked up, limited lives. Now for those of you who have missed the mission and messed up when it comes to raising your kids don’t despair. Because it’s into the limits and the locks that the Lord comes. Notice that man-made locks don’t limit the Lord. I also want you to see that scripture records not just a locked door but doors plural. There are lots of locks, there are multiple man-made mechanisms but regardless of how locked up you are Jesus presence has the power to fill and free your life. Your problems don’t limit His presence, your perception doesn’t limit His presence, your pain doesn’t limit His presence. Even in the limits and the locks we can experience God’s presence. We need to stop living in the anxiety and start living in the expectation and anticipation of His presence. When we wake do we begin the day in His presence or in the problems? Instead of living in the pleasure of His presence we are living in the panic of the problems. We need to stop fixing our eyes on the anxiety and start focusing on the Author. Many of us start our day in dread because we are not living in the eager expectation of God showing up and when He does we miss Him. Worry causes us to waste our energy on the what if’s instead of being engaged in the One who is. They were living in the worry of the religious leaders instead of the wonder of the resurrected Lord. Are you going to look to the Lord or live a locked-up life? Only His presence can provide us with real peace. Are you living in His presence or in the problems?